by Paige Sheffield

I’m just one of the guys. I get along better with guys – girls are too much drama. I’m not like other girls.

How many times have you heard or used one of these phrases? On the surface, they might seem pretty harmless. Maybe you really are friends with a lot of guys. Maybe you’re just frustrated with your girl friends right now. Maybe you want to seem cooler or more laidback.

But what’s so uncool about being a girl or being friends with girls?

While using these phrases might seem like no big deal, some of their implications are actually pretty significant. Here are a few reasons why these phrases are more harmful than you might realize:

1. These statements are full of gender stereotypes.

You probably have some friends who can be pretty dramatic. It’s a common personality trait. But is it a personality trait that you can truly say is possessed by all girls? When you say things like “girls are too much drama,” you’re reinforcing the stereotypes which are nothing more than that: negative stereotypes. Some girls are dramatic. Some boys are dramatic. But to say all girls (aside from the ones who are “cool enough to hang with the guys”) are the same and possess the same characteristics is not giving girls enough credit for how complex and unique they are. The same goes for saying you’re “one of the guys” because you like sports or video games – girls can, obviously, like sports and video games, too (and not all boys like sports and video games). Who decided what was “girly” anyway? Psh.

2. You’re putting down other girls.

You might actually be friends with a lot of guys. Cool. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with cutting down other girls just because you might not be friends with a lot of them. There’s nothing wrong with the “other girls” just because they might be different from you. You’re not going to get along with every girl you meet, but that doesn’t mean you should try to separate yourself from the entire population of girls and women. When you do that…

3. You’re implying that being a girl is inferior.

When you try to separate yourself from other girls, you’re implying that there’s something wrong with being a girl and something better about being more like the boys. You can hang out with guys, play video games, be an awesome, laidback person, and still be proud of being a girl. Though you’ve grown up hearing insulting phrases like “you throw like a girl” as if that’s a bad thing, being a girl is not a weakness and not something to be ashamed of.

4. You should be proud of who you are.

You should embrace who you are: all of the stereotypes you break, the boxes you don’t fit into, the traits that are stereotypically masculine, and the traits that are stereotypically feminine. You shouldn’t have to dissociate yourself from other girls to feel accepted or powerful or cool. Girls are powerful and cool all on their own, regardless of whether or not they have tons of guy friends. Your ability to hang with the guys does not determine how laidback or awesome you are. You know what’s pretty awesome? Embracing who you are while empowering other girls and women to do the same.

Embrace yourself!

Paige is a journalism major with a passion for empowering young women.